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Water Enforcement Case Highlights

EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act protects our nation’s water quality by curbing municipal and industrial wastewater discharges, polluted runoff from urban and rural areas, and prevents habitat destruction. Overflows of raw sewage from aging municipal sewer systems and urban storm water runoff are significant sources of pollutants, contributing to the contamination of drinking water sources, beach and shellfish bed closures, and other environmental and health concerns. Storm water runoff from municipal storm sewer systems and construction sites can dump a variety of harmful pollutants – including bacteria, organic nutrients, pesticides, hydrocarbons, sediment, oil and grease – into rivers, lakes and streams. Oil and hazardous substance spills can pose serious threats to human health and often have a long-lasting impact on the environment. As a result of cases concluded in fiscal year 2009, EPA is ensuring that 304,511,262 million pounds of water pollution will be reduced, eliminated or properly managed and investments in environmental improvement projects from parties worth 1.6 billion dollars will be made.

View civil water enforcement case information by location. Zoom in a few times to pinpoint the exact location of a facility. Click on the location indicator to obtain additional information on the environmental enforcement case at that facility. See "Questions About the Maps" for additional information. You may also see summaries of selected water enforcement cases below the map.

Water Enforcement cases by location.

Highlighted Cases

Combined Sewer OverFlows and Sanitary Sewer Overflows

Many older municipalities’ systems depend on single-pipe “combined sewer systems” designed to convey both storm water runoff, domestic sewage and industrial waste to the treatment facility. When the capacity of combined systems is exceeded during heavy rainfall or snow melt, a mixture of storm water, household sewage and industrial wastewater overflows untreated through sewer outfalls (CSOs) into rivers and lakes. CSO systems combine sanitary (regular) sewage and storm water runoff. These overflows may also back up through storm water drains onto streets, yards and into basements. Most municipalities depend on “sanitary sewer systems” which transport sewage and industrial wastewater to sewage treatment plants and have separate storm water collection systems. Like combined systems, sanitary sewer systems can become overwhelmed during wet weather events and experience overflows (SSOs). Both combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows can occur frequently in some municipal systems, reflecting chronic problems. Overflow can be due to deterioration with age, poor sewer system maintenance, or lack of sufficient capacity in the system to treat the wastewater, impacting waterways and resulting in backups into parks, homes and businesses and threatening public health. Sewer overflows to waterways can contain bacteria, viruses and other microbial pathogens, suspended solids, toxics, trash and other pollutants. Sewer overflows contribute to beach closings, shellfish bed closures, contamination of drinking water supplies and other environmental damage. [More Information]

The following are water cases concluded in fiscal year 2009:

Independence, Missouri Clean Water Act Settlement

EPA reached agreement with the City of Independence, Missouri to make a series of improvements to its sanitary sewer system aimed at keeping millions of gallons of untreated sewage from flowing into local urban streams, including Mill and Rock Creeks, and the Missouri River watershed each year. The agreement addresses numerous violations of the federal Clean Water Act by the city, including 430 sanitary sewer overflows resulting in the discharge of millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the Missouri River since October 2000. The portion of the sanitary sewer system covered by the agreement encompasses more than 515 miles of sanitary sewer lines and six pumping stations. As part of the agreement, Independence paid a penalty of $255,000 to the United States. The city will spent an additional $450,000 on a supplemental environmental project involving soil and bank stabilization at three of its water detention basins. [More Information]

The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee

The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee Agree to Extensive Sewer System Upgrades EPA, and co-plaintiff Tennessee, reached agreement with the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (Metro), at a cost of between $300 million and $400 million, to make extensive improvements to its sewer systems to eliminate unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage and to control overflows of combined sewage and storm water. Prior to the agreement, Metro had been unlawfully discharging over 200 million gallons of untreated sewage and experiencing overflows of billions of gallons of combined sewage into the Cumberland River and its tributaries. The settlement will lead to the significant reduction of approximately 1.3 million pounds of pollutants per year. In addition, Metro paid civil penalty of $564,038 and performed two supplemental environmental projects at a cost of $2.8 million to extend sewer service to areas previously only served by septic systems. [More Information]

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Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 311

In fiscal year 2009, five judicial actions were entered for violations of Clean Water Act Section 311/309 and Section 311(j) (Oil Pollution Prevention regulations). The five cases were: Citation, Plantation, Anadarko, Explorer, and Magellan (ammonia spills). The five cases addressed 41 discharges of oil, including crude and jet fuel that totaled 41,728 barrels (1,752,576 gallons) discharged; two discharges totaling 1,202,236 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure violations at 33 facilities and Facility Response Plan violations at four facilities. Penalties for the 5 cases totaled $9,005,000 - all but $10,000 of which was paid to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The remaining $10,000 was paid to the State of North Carolina, who was a co-plaintiff in one action. The cases involved comprehensive injunctive relief valued at $10,565,000. The injunctive relief in the Citation and Anadarko cases was particularly notable, because it includes comprehensive preventive planning and actions at oil production facilities to investigate, analyze and address spill risks. Pollutant Reductions/Preventive Complying Actions included : 1,752,576 gallons or 13,308,974 pounds for the oil spill violations, 1,202,236 pounds for the anhydrous ammonia violations and more than 594,888 gallons for the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure violations.

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